Philtoa shifts focus to land tours amid air travel complications

The Philippine Tour Operators Association (Philtoa) has created 32 new land travel packages in the island of Luzon, including destinations near metro Manila, as domestic air travel is rendered complicated by the ever-changing lockdown levels and restrictions across the country.

Having been cooped up at home for the past 18 months, it is “a relief” for Filipinos “just to get out of their houses”, even if it’s just a trip to a nearby destination, Philtoa president Cesar Cruz said during the press conference of the hybrid Philippine Travel Exchange (PHITEX) 2021.

Philtoa promotes land tours in the island of Luzon; Batad Rice Terraces in Ifugao Province, Luzon Island pictured 

He said the island of Luzon has attractions that appeal to domestic tourists, in various combinations of beaches, farm-based, nature-based, gastronomic, natural landscapes and other outdoor activities.

The new overland tours that the locals are interested in, and are easier to travel to with many road networks, include the nearby areas of metro Manila like Rizal, Cavite, Laguna and Batangas as well as the Bicol and Quezon province circuit.

In Visayas and Mindanao, Cruz said the complications on domestic air travel can be avoided as ferries are available to transport tourists from one island to another.

While some quarters have commented that people will have no budget left for travelling once tourism restarts, Cruz suggested otherwise, citing the case of Boracay’s reopening to tourists from metro Manila last June. The island’s visitor profile showed that the tourists were from the low and middle market segments, not high-end.

From his observations, travellers have already embraced the safety protocols in place while travelling in the post-Covid era, including getting their QR code registrations and submitting negative RT-PCR test results.

Cruz is “very optimistic” that before the year ends, domestic travel will be ready to take off, subject to the easing of travel restrictions in the respective destinations.

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